The establishment of the minor this semester reflects a number of academic and social trends evident both on campus and throughout the United States, administrators and faculty say. With the number of Hispanic-Americans expected to surpass 30 million by the end of the century, both the number of college courses involving Latin America and the number of students enrolling in them will rise. Even more pertinent to Boston College, they say, is the strong Catholic tradition in Spanish-speaking cultures, which provides for a natural tie to the University's heritage.
"A lot of people have been working on this program for quite some time and it is very appropriate for us to have it in place," said A&S Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ. "We have a great range of expertise in Latin America, from literature to history to political science. In addition to its Catholic tradition, Latin America has long maintained a strong Jesuit influence, especially in the area of higher education. So our bond with Latin America is that much stronger."
"This minor is a timely and significant addition to the undergraduate curriculum," said A&S Associate Dean Carol Hurd Green, facilitator of the Interdisciplinary Minors Program. "Both students and faculty have expressed enthusiasm for a program which will present a coherent view of Latin America's many facets."
Students who take the minor must demonstrate language proficiency. The minor is composed of six courses, three of which must each represent a different discipline; the remaining three can be chosen from any combination of the disciplines. In addition to Romance Languages, A&S departments represented in the minor thus far include Black Studies, Economics, Fine Arts, History, Political Science, Sociology and Theology. The School of Education is also offering a related course.
Another role for the program, Rosser said, will be to sponsor guest speakers and special events focusing on issues and topics relating to Latin America. He feels the minor will also help spur students to pursue opportunities for study abroad.
"We feel it's important for our students to be well-informed about the world," Rosser said, "and Latin America is an increasingly vital and prominent part of it. Spanish is the most common language now spoken in this hemisphere and the US ranks among the top five countries for the number of native Spanish speakers. The Latin American minor is clearly an idea whose time has come."
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